From the Editor
By Ina Steiner
The middle of July means that it's the height of "Yard Sale" season. OAI forums used to be chock-full of chatter about people' fabulous finds each weekend. We've noticed that this type of discussion seems to be hard to find over the past few years, and we were wondering - do our readers still go to yard sales? If not, why not? If you still make the weekly excursion to local sales, are you still finding saleable gems?
For a summertime diversion, go to our blog, and let us know how the yard sale season is shaping up in your area. Have you made any finds that you'd like to brag about? We'd love to know!
Our recent coverage of ecommerce shopping carts and EveryPlaceISell.com multi-channel merchants has been extremely popular as small sellers continue to branch out to niche marketplaces and set up their own websites. Today we feature EPIS merchant OneStopFanShop.com and the Magento solution for online sellers. We also take a look at eBay's "ship-to location" country exclusion option, a feature designed to help U.S. sellers listing internationally on eBay.
Craigslist has been become as heavily trafficked as eBay, according to a recent comScore/Citi Group traffic report that also shows Amazon continues to surpass eBay traffic - link. Anecdotal reports continue that sales are flat-lining on eBay since it eliminated Store Inventory format and put the Store listings onto the core marketplace - see this letter from a reader, for example.
eBay has certainly changed the game by bringing large merchants onto its site and increasing the barriers of entry for small sellers. In Phase One, eBay brought Buy.com onto the site in a secret arrangement, followed by Diamond catalog sellers who could upload inventory with the Large Merchant Services API on-ramp.
In Phase Two, eBay has been driving shoppers to select merchants through special promotions (like this one) as well as features like its Daily Deals (see, "eBay Keeps Tight Lid on Daily Deal Opportunity for Sellers" - link).
eBay has been giving one merchant, StylePremium, exclusivity on its flash sales feature (known as Fashion Vault), which it heavily promotes in the Clothing Shoes & Accessories category. And, as was the case with Buy.com, Shoplet, SmartBargains and other Diamonds when they first launched, sellers noted the less-than-stellar feedback ratings received by StylePremium.
I tracked down StylePremium's parent company, eFashion Solutions, to learn more about its business. Ed Foy co-founded the business 10 years ago with his wife Jennifer, and my interview with Ed makes for interesting reading: "eFashion Solutions Powers Brands on eBay Fashion Vault, Amazon.com" - link to article. More importantly, the article highlights the challenges that smaller sellers face these days competing with large merchants.
Partnering with large merchants leaves eBay vulnerable - Amazon.com acquired Zappos, and Japanese marketplace Rakuten acquired Buy.com. That is, unless its long-term strategy is to move away from a strictly marketplace model and toward a pay-for-performance model like its Shopping.com platform - which could be Phase Three of its "turnaround" strategy.
eBay is considering a holiday promotion in which it would put an icon next to eligible listings indicating guaranteed delivery by Christmas. The promotion would be limited to Top Rated Sellers and would require them to offer free shipping, free return shipping and offer expedited shipping. eBay would give participating sellers an incentive in the form of a final-value fee discount.
Finally, a few reminders.
- eBay sellers should remember that Item Condition values will be mandatory as of July 27 - link to eBay announcement.
- And book, media and electronics sellers on any platform should know that Google just announced new requirements for merchants sending feeds to Google Product Search. If you do not comply, your items will not display in Google Product Search results - link to more information in Friday's Newsflash.
Marketplace sellers and independent website owners would benefit from reading this thread on the Artfire discussion boards if they don't understand the importance of Google Product Search. (This applies to all marketplaces and all sellers.)
Thanks for reading!
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to email@example.com.
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